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Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños

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Move over deep fryer! Here is a keto-friendly version where these baked peppers retain a mellow bite and steal the show at your next happy hour.Ingredients

For 24 poppers

  • 12 green jalapeño peppers
  • 1/2 cup of cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 cup of shredded taco cheese
  • 24 mini hot dog smokies
  • 24 strips of good quality bacon

Before cooking

Instructions

  1. Split jalapeños in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and membranes in order to make hollow little green canoes.
  2. Mix cream cheese, onion powder, shredded cheese and place a small dollup inside each jalapeño canoe.
  3. Press a little hot dog smokie into each pepper and wrap with bacon strip.
  4. Place into baking pan with the seam on the bottom. Be generous with the overlapping bacon—it is crucial for holding these bites together.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, drain and then bake for a final 5 minutes before serving.

Jalepeno poppers

 


Morrocan Chicken Tagine

Chef's Corner logoHere is show stopping dish that will transport you right down the spice roads. The conical clay “tagine” can be replaced by a Dutch oven or any heavy-bottomed pot with a fitted lid. The long list of ingredients will guide you to endless possibilities of layered flavors. Don’t worry if you cannot find some of these spices because this fall-off-the bone tender chicken stew with olives and dried fruit is always amazing.

For 6 to 8 portions

  • 1 whole chicken cut into legs, thighs, and breasts. The wings and backbone can be used to enhance the stock.
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely choppedMorrocan Chicken Tagine
  • 1 small knob of ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Small packet of saffron threads or 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon or 2 whole sticks
  • A small pinch of any of these components of Ras el Hanout will enhance the deep flavors: mace, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cayenne, cardamon, cayenne
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit such as apricots or raisins
  • 1/2 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of olives
  • For garnish: toasted slivered almonds, chopped parsley or cilantro leaves

Directions

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in olive oil in the pan or tagine.
  2. Remove chicken and some of the rendered fat.
  3. In same pan, fry garlic, onion, ginger until fragrant.
  4. Add spices, chicken and chicken stock, dried fruit, and simmer slowly for 45 minutes to one hour. Check often and add a little stock if necessary.Add lime juice and olives; check seasonings.
  5. Serve with couscous or Basmati rice.

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Pozole – Pork and Corn Soup

Chef's Corner logoThis Mexican stew usually calls for hominy, but I find that the kernels from our local elotes (corn) work just as well and are easier to find.

Stock for 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 kilo of pork shoulder
  • 500 grams of pork ribs with bones
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Package of guajillo peppers

    These chili peppers are some of the greatest ingredients cultivated by the Aztecs and now available in our modern supermarkets.

  • 1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 gallon or 3 liters of water
  • 6 whole dried Guajillo peppers (other peppers are also great such as Anaheim, Pasilla, California…)
  • Kernels from 4 ears of corn, previously cooked.

Toppings

  • Chopped and seeded jalapenos
  • Avocado cubes
  • Sliced red onions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Crumbled cheese (preferably queso fresco, cotija, or feta)
  • Sliced red radishes
  • Tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Make stock with pork shoulder (paleta de cerdo), ribs, and all ingredients except for the chilis and the corn.
  2. Simmer for at least 3 hours.
  3. Strain and let it cool completely.
  4. Cube the chunks of pork and set aside.
  5. For best results, the stock should sit overnight in fridge in order to skim the fat off the surface to achieve a rich and fat-free broth.
  6. Add the seeded chili peppers, allow to soak for about 20 minutes, and then blend in blender. The mixture should be thick and deep red. Season with salt and pepper, add pork cubes and corn, and serve piping hot with plenty of toppings listed above.

The Best Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Chef's Corner logoFollow these easy steps and you’ll have a chewy, moist, wholesome snack that is full of character. By adding your choice of nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips, this soft cookie will eclipse all others.

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional but really adds depth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (try soaking them in a little rum) or craisins
  • Optional additions of chocolate chips, walnuts, coarse sea salt sprinkled on top before baking or other.

Oatmeal cookiesDirections

  1. Mix the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla.
  4. Using a spatula or a fork, fold in the dry ingredients until you obtain a thick dough. Do not over mix.
  5. I like to add craisins, semi-sweet and white chocolate chips, chopped toasted walnuts, but you can use other ingredients that you may have on hand.
  6. Chill the dough in fridge for 30 minutes and place by spoonful on ungreased baking tray (cookies will not stick to tray if removed immediately with spatula once baked).
  7. Bake for approximately 12 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven (190 Celsius). The soft and chewy texture is obtained if you under bake them a little.

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Chef's Corner logoThe odd name for this alcohol-free recipe must actually refer to that formidable craving for fiery-hot noodles while one is drinking.

This is a more caramelized, saucy, spicy and vegetable-packed version of Pad Thai that can still be enjoyed with a side of chopped peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Ingredients for up to 8 servings

  • 1 package of Pad Thai rice noodles
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil 
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1lb of sliced chicken breast, and/or peeled raw shrimp (these proteins are optional)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 seeded chopped hot chili peppers 
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of sliced or julienned vegetables of your choice: carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, broccoli, baby corn
  • 1 cup of roughly chopped fresh basil (Thai or other)

Drunken NoodlesInstructions

  1. Soak rice noodles in hot water for 3 minutes and then drain in colander. 
  2. Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, sweetener, and 1/3 cup of water.
  3. Heat oils in wok and add the chicken and shrimp if using. Add garlic, chili peppers, green onion slices and cook for about 3 minutes. Add sliced vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.
  4. Pour in sauce and mix well adding noodles and the basil.
  5. Serve immediately with some sides of chopped nuts, cilantro and lime wedges.

Tasty Chicken Kabobs

Chef's Corner logoThese tender and juicy kabobs are a party appetizer superstar. The key to this succulent chicken recipe is to use boneless thigh fillets (muslos deshuesados) immersed overnight in a sweet, spicy, and lemongrassy marinade.

For 10-12 kabobs

  • 1 kilo of boneless chicken thighs trimmed and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 plump lemongrass stalk, white part only
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Chicken grilled on skewers

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a large ziploc bag and blend the remaining ingredients until a smooth paste is formed.
  2. Pour the paste into the bag and mix around to cover entirely.
  3. Place in refrigerator for several hours or preferably overnight.
  4. Thread the morsels on soaked bamboo skewers and grill over low heat turning kabobs regularly to prevent burning.
  5. I usually finish them on a baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm while I prepare the peanut sauce.

For the sauce

  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small stalk of lemongrass, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red chili pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  1. In a small saucepan fry the garlic, lemongrass, and red pepper in the vegetable oil until fragrant.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow boil until a smooth sauce is obtained.
  3. Adjust the flavors to your taste with more sugar, salt, pepper, or coconut milk.
  4. Garnish with some chopped peanuts and red pepper.

Fire Chicken with Mozzarella

Chef's Corner logocompleted dishThis is a fun party dish that’s inspired by a Korean recipe named buldak. The spicy grilled chicken is covered with melted mozzarella and served with fresh lettuce leaves. You can replace the “gojujang” chili paste with red curry paste.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb or 500 grams of boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of honey 
  • 1 tablespoon of gojujang or red curry paste
  • 1 chopped chili pepper (optional) 
  • 1 dash of black pepper
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of shredded ginger
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Sliced green onion tops and sesame seeds for garnish

Cooked chickenDirections

  1. Marinate the chicken with the first 6 ingredients for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Grill or broil over low heat until done.
  3. Cut into bite size pieces and place in an oven pan, cover with cheese, and broil until cheese is melted and slightly brown.
  4. Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, enjoy with friends and cold drinks!

Chifrijo

Chef's Corner logoA fantastic way to experience the local flavors of Costa Rica, is with a cold drink and a “boca*” in a typical cantina. This particular boca recipe is said to have originated from a bar in Tibas. It is a tasty layered dip that combines soft and crunchy textures—a perfect foundation for soaking up more cold beverages.

Bocas were traditionally made from whatever offerings were present in the kitchen, and served as little free appetizers. Now they will most likely cost a small amount of colones.

This layered dip combines soft and crunchy textures where the chicharrones (the fried pork can be substituted with shredded chicken) are placed between beans and diced tomatoes. 

Completed ChifrijoIngredients

  • 1 cup of cooked rice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked red or black beans with liquid
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of diced cooked chicharrones (recipe at the end).
  • 1 whole tomato, diced
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • Salt, pepper, hot peppers to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • Fried tortilla chips for scooping

Instructions

Find a medium sized bowl to begin layering:

  1. The warm cooked rice.
  2. The beans with liquid.
  3. The diced chicharrones or shredded chicken.
  4. The diced tomato.
  5. The cubed avocado.
  6. The sliced onion.
  7. Sprinkle with lime juice, salt, pepper, hot peppers, to taste.
  8. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Best enjoyed with crispy tortilla chips

Raw pork bellyCooked chicharronesHomemade chicharrones

I like to start with one kilo of pork belly—panzada

Cook bite-size squares and sprinkle with baking soda. Rest for a few hours or overnight. Rinse off the meat and place into non-stick wok with 2 cups of water. Bring to a slow boil on low flame and cook for 1 hour or until the water has evaporated. Raise the heat slightly and fry the meat until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. You can simply enjoy them with tortillas and squeezed orange-lime juice.

 


Fish Cakes and Prawn Laksa

Chef's Corner logoThis epic Malaysian curried noodle soup will sweep you far, far away…to the balmy streets of Singapore. The flavorful soup base can be made with chicken, seafood, or vegetarian. This one is made with seafood, my favorite.

Serves 6-8

For the fish cakes

  • ½ kg white fish filet (snapper, mahi, sea bass)
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons of Nam Pla or fish sauce (you can use soy sauce too)
  • 2 teaspoons of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Oil for frying

Shaped fish cakesDirections

  1. Place fish pieces in food processor and pulse with the next 4 ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add the sliced scallions and mix well. White strings can be removed.
  3. Form into small flat patties and fry until golden, like in the photo.

For the stock

  • 1 fish carcass and/or 1 chicken carcass
  • The shells from 1 kg of large shrimp, save the peeled shrimp for the laksa
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only
  • 3 cm knobs of galangal and/or ginger
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (optional or can be substituted with 2 bay leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons of Nam Pla or fish sauce to taste
  • Salt, pepper
  • 400 ml can of coconut milk

Read More…


Bo Bun

Chef's Corner logoThis is my version of a popular take-out salad found only outside of Vietnam (like the chicken chow mein that you’ll never find in China). 

A bowl of rice noodles is topped with strips of grilled beef, lettuce, peanuts, chili peppers, and served with a sweet and tangy fish sauce dressing. This recipe yields 4 to 5 large bowls, the spiciness adjusted to taste and best enjoyed with chopsticks.

For the beef

  • 1 pound or 1/2 kilo of lomito. I recommend using lomito or tenderloin since other cuts might be tough.
  • 5 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of finely sliced lemongrass, white part only (optional but so good)
  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Marinate the beef for at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill the whole piece on all sides so that the center stays medium rare. Allow to cool and thinly slice.

Read More…


Tuna Poke Salad with Mango and Avocado

Chef's Corner logoIn this town, we can almost always find the freshest tuna. This colorful salad is so quick and easy; it is a perfect cool lunch dish or a stunning 1st course.

Tuna steakTuna Instructions

Start with a slab of tuna like this in the photo.
Cube about 200 grams or 1/2 pound of the tuna, and toss with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of honey (or brown sugar), and 1 tablespoon of good quality soy sauce.

Salad ingredients

A bed of salad greens
A handful of ripe and flavorful mango cubes
A handful of ripe avocado cubes
A small amount of thinly sliced scallion greens (too much will overpower)
Finished saladToasted sesame seeds
A small amount of Japanese sweet bbq sauce or eel sauce to drizzle for finish ( can be substituted with a mixture of soy and honey)
Sesame oil to drizzle
Sliced red chili (optional)

Salad Instructions

Build the salad by layering the greens, the tuna cubes, mango cubes, avocado cubes.
Drizzle with Japanese sweet sauce or homemade mixture of soy and honey.
Top with sesame seeds and scallions.

The seasonings can be adjusted to taste where the main flavors are from the soy sauce, the honey or brown sugar, and the sesame oil. 


Indo-Chinese Chili Chicken

Chef's Corner logoSometimes nicknamed “Chindu” cuisine, it’s the result of Chinese immigrants in India who adapted their recipes to local flavors and produced some of the happiest accidents of Asian-fusion.

This sauce combines sweet soy, garlic, ginger, and spicy peppers. Ask your butcher for “muslos deshuesados,” or boneless chicken thighs. They will remain juicy and delicious throughout the cooking and reheating of this dish. 

Ingredients for about 6 servings

  • 500 grams of boneless chicken thighs
  • oil for frying
Finished dish

Finished dish

For the batter

  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of water

For the sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 3 green onions (scallions) thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper or more to taste
  • 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of shredded ginger
  • 1/2 small red or green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of good quality soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cold water mixed with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
Chicken in batter before frying

Chicken in batter before frying

Directions

  1. Cut the boneless thighs in 1 inch pieces and prepare batter ingredients.
  2. Coat the chicken as seen in picture.
  3. Fry in batches in a shallow pan with the vegetable oil. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Prepare sauce. Heat oil in a pan and fry the green onion, garlic, bell pepper, ginger, and jalapeno until fragrant.
  5. Add the sriracha ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar.
  6. Add the water/cornstarch mixture and heat until the sauce thickens.
  7. Mix in the fried chicken pieces, garnish with cilantro leaves or sliced green onion tops, serve with rice or noodles.

MUJADERA

Chef's Corner logoThis dish called Mujadara makes me think of a middle eastern version of “gallo pinto.” The caramelized onions are the key and they should cook until they reach the darkest brown without burning. Don’t forget the fun toppings listed below that will add panache to these humble ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of green lentils
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cracked peppercorns 
  • 3 medium red onions thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup of basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 small knob of ginger (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A few teaspoons of lime juice to taste

MujaderaDirections

  1. Place lentils in a pot with knob of ginger and cinnamon stick. Cover with water by 1 inch and set to boil. When reaches a boil, lower the temperature so the lentils stay whole and simmer for about 20 minutes. They should be cooked but not mushy. Drain in colander.
  2. Heat 1/2 of oil in a frying pan and add cumin seeds, peppercorns and onions. Cook onions until they are dark brown and some are turning crispy. This may take 10-15 minutes. Season with salt.
  3. Remove half of the onions and save them for the very end.
  4. Wash and drain the basmati rice and fry in the onion-cumin-pepper oil for a few minutes then add 3/4 cups of water and let the rice cook.
  5. To assemble the dish, heat 3 tablespoons of oil, add lentils, ground cumin and ground cinnamon, stir in the cooked rice, and finish by topping with the reserved onions, lime juice and any of the following options.

Options

Chopped nuts such as pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cashews.
Chopped dried fruit such as apricots or craisins
Chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, or dill


Peruvian Aji de Gallina

Chef's Corner logoWe once had a quaint little Peruvian restaurant downtown Quepos where this became my favorite chicken dish.

It is creamy and spicy with an unusual mix of walnuts, Parmesan, and these orange “aji” peppers that can be found in produce markets from time to time. I have also found this “Ajinka” sauce that I highly recommend to anyone who, like me, enjoys collecting hot sauces.

Aji peppers and ajinka sauceFor 8 portions

  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 large whole boneless chicken breasts (4 halves)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 slices of stale baguette (about 1/2 inch slices) or a similar bread
  • 3 to 4 aji peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 can or 1/2 cup of evaporated milk

Completed dishDirections

  1. Boil potatoes and eggs until cooked. Peel and set aside.
  2. Boil chicken breasts in chicken broth and strain when fully cooked while reserving the stock. Let cool before shredding all of the meat.
  3. Cook the aromatics: onions, garlic, aji peppers in the oilve oil until very fragrant, and then allow to cool. 
    Meanwhile, soak the bread slices in the evaporated milk.
  4. Place cooked aromatics, leftover stock, bread with milk, and walnuts in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
    Return to pan and bring to a slow boil. Stir in the shredded chicken; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper (I prefer white).
  5. Aji de gallina is usually served with a couple wedges of boiled potatoes, a couple wedges of hard boiled eggs, steamed rice and black olives.

Ripe Plantain Empanadas

Chef's Corner logoRipe plantainLiving in paradise means you’re surrounded with exotic fruits such as the plantain. It is also a versatile cooking ingredient that is less sweet and more starchy then its cousin the banana. We know that they are loaded with brain-boosting nutritious benefits such as potassium, vitamins, magnesium, to name a few…

Here is a little a little snack that is both sweet and savory. I’ve adapted it from a Colombian recipe to be gluten free and possibly vegan if the cheese is substituted with beans. 

  1. Finished empanadasFirst you start with a medium ripe plantain.
  2. Peel and boil the plantain for about 20 minutes and allow it to cool.
  3. Drain and mash with a fork.
  4. Add, ¾ cup of corn flour (or masa rica found in stores) and ½ teaspoon of salt.
  5. Mix until you obtain a dry dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.Roll into 8 to 10 little golf ball sizes.
  6. Flatten into circles and place one pinch of shredded cheese (mozzarella is recommended) or one small dollop of refried beans for the vegan option.
  7. Fold over to create a half moon shape, and pinch around the edges to seal.
  8. Fry in cooking oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels.
  9. Sprinkle with a mixture of salt, sugar, and cinnamon and serve.Shaped empanada

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